Friday, February 7, 2014


By John McKee

It's Super Bowl Sunday and and there is anticipation in the air of a good fun tough football game. The Broncos were favored by 2 points so the odd makers were thinking it was going to be close... BUT the game doesn't start until 3:30 pm PST. We have all day to do whatever we want. Well how about bike racing. Most years the Super Bowl falls on the Mothballs Criterium in Goleta but this year Red Trolley gets the honors. Again since the game is so late it doesn't really matter. We can race and still watch the game. Yeah baby!
My daughter's and son in law's hotel under construction in the Denver Area. Woolley's Classic Suites. Go Broncos!
My 3 year old grandson in his Peyton Manning jersey. He uses legos like a Star Wars light saber.
 The 55/60+ race was scheduled for 9 am so the game was not going to interfere with any 55 or 60+ racer watching the game. Let's concentrate on the bike race then. Go Broncos! Oops! Sorry!
The Red Trolley has a tradition of being the day after Blvd. Blvd. is one of the hardest road races on the calendar and is really early in the season. On top of that the 55/60+ race starts at 7 am. Well at 5,000 feet it is very cold in the morning there in early Feb. This year at the start time the temperature was a toasty 29 degrees. Ok.. no thanks. Sorry. Not doing that one. You guys that roughed that are tougher than I am and there was a good size field. At Red Trolley the temp at race time was around 60 degrees. Double the temp from the race the day before. The field was pretty strong at Red Trolley as well. The pre registration wasn't that great but we ended up with 40 racers between the 55s and 60s. The field was split pretty much down the middle between the 55s and 60s.
Love the outfit on this doggie at Red Trolley.
55+ big hitters Mark Hoffenberg, Evan Teske and Malcolm Hill were present. Hot new 60s Mike Birditt and Dale Luedtke were also lining up. Kal Szkalak and Monty Pettus had good races in 60+ the prior race at Mothballs so with all this star power you expect a fast hard race. Or would you. Mark didn't have many teammates there and had been sick for the prior weeks. Evan and Malcolm are on the same team. Not sure of what to expect from the new 55+ Pinnaclife riders. Would the 60+ riders mix it up or sit in. There were a lot of questions that would make you wonder what was going to happen. I guess we wouldn't know until we actually raced the race. Yes, let's race the race! Go Dog Go!(I like to read stories like this book to my grandson when I visit Denver).
Best arty/farty picture I have taken accidentally- pretty cool.
It's 9 am and the officials give a few pre race instructions. Announcer Ralph Elliot has a few choose things to say and we are off! A racing we go. The 1st few laps not much went on but then fireworks went off. Larry Shannon of Monster Media on his bright green Masi tried to mix it up and laid down some major power. Monster Media is in a black kit but black kits are way popular this year so it isn't easy picking out the teams in a mixed pack. At least Monster Media's team bike really stands out. The field is lined out with gaps here and there. This effort didn't last long and we were back bunched up. "Big" John Roest in a new Swami's kit was the next to put some real effort into mixing things up. John is 61 this year coming off a good rookie 60+ season. "Big" John's health has been suspect lately with a winter cold. John had a partner in a 2 man break effort and they did pretty well. They had a 150 meter gap but they only lasted 3 laps. Larry Shannon put in another hard effort and this time to chase. Rick Swanson also of Swami's tried to come to the front to "monitor" the pace but 3 laps was all the twosome could do. All back together.
I was feeling pretty good and getting in the flow of the race. The effort felt easier than the prior week at Mothballs and my heart rate monitor would bear this out later. The race was easier for me. Possible a bigger field made for a greater drafter. The course itself at the Cyclo Vets crit course is pretty challenging. We gained over 700 ft. in the 40 minutes we raced. This is a new course for Red Trolley. The prior course was really tough. Hard power climb to the line every lap. It wore you down after a while. There was an open business near the course that complained heavily about parking violations, peeing violations, etc. and out we went. No city permit there.
Another break effort got going pretty quick. Malcolm Hill got himself away with a good gap. Kenny Steward of Pinnaclife, Mike Birditt of Swami's and Ricky Shorts on yet another team and it is Velocity are in a small group between Malcolm and the pack. Their gap is not bad. I am amazed that the threesome didn't become a foursome and stay away. The 3 guys much not have been committed. Malcolm was totally committed to winning in a break. He knew he couldn't outsprint Teske or Hoffy though Teske is his teammate. I assume the team game plan was Malcolm in a break situation and if it is a bunch sprint then Teske would be the team player for Breakaway from Cancer.
Larry Shannon put in a hard chase and maybe some Rokform riders helped out because they weren't represented. The 4 guys were swept up and the pack was totally churning with great surges in speed and pace after that. The play at the front on different laps was dynamic. Riding in the middle of the pack you don't see a lot of this. There were primes of course that brought certain riders up to swope up the goodies. There were Spy glasses for a 55+ rider AND a 60+ rider. The sprint out for the 60+ prime was between 2 brand new 60+ racers, Ricky Shorts(Ricky would flat within 5 to go and couldn't finish) and Mike Birditt. Mike won the glasses.
The time was running down and Malcolm was now marked pretty closely. Malcolm was looking to break away with a little over 5 to go but was marked out of doing so. With 4 to go the pressure was really put on. Rick Swanson was smoking it up at the front. There were small pods of riders and then the pack. Somewhere after Rick pulled off Malcolm made another play. Coming into 3 to go Malcolm had a decent gap. 2 riders from Rokform and Pinnaclife went out to chase but weren't successful. The remaining riders wouldn't even get on the chasers. Everyone was setting up for a sprint finish. Half the riders were 60+ anyway. Malcolm is 55+.
As far as Malcolm was concerned, he was all in. He was where he wanted to be and it was win or lose. Malcolm had another motivating factor in his corner. Malcolm lost his younger brother Mitch to pancreatic cancer in 2013 and Malcolm wanted this victory to honor his brother  in his first race of 2014.
Mitch Hill  (1958-2013) RIP Mitch
Malcolm carried his strength to the line for the victory in 55+. Nice going, Malcolm!! Malcolm had about a 1/4 lap on the field at the end. Everyone else was lining up for the bunch sprint. 2 and 3 were left in 55+ and all 3 places were still up in 60+. Red Trolley didn't give up any money though we paid top dollar at $30 and $37 same day. We did get medals and a podium for each category.
The pace on the backside of the last lap wasn't that fast. Kal Szkalak was a little far back and started to move up on the outside. I took a ride up behind him. Kal jumped a little harder coming near the last corner. Monty Pettus jumped out of the pack and on his wheel. I was a little back now. David Fetah was taking the corner a little wide trying to vie for a wheel with Dale Luedtke. David has something to learn. When Dale wants a wheel at the end well he is going to get it. David must have been leaning toward Dale who was on the inside and David hit his pedal down hard. His bike jumped up. I was now right behind him and I had to hestitate to see what happened. David saved himself and maybe me too though I think I could have gone inside David since he was on the corner. He would have slide straight toward the curb leaving the lane open for the rest of us who were turning right.
Evan Teske showed his stuff in the sprint and came across the line for 2nd place in 55+ followed in by defending 55-59 national champion Mark Hoffenberg. The 55+ podium was taken care of. Time for the 60s to show their stuff and they did. Mike Birditt came across next for a clear win in 60+ though he was having trouble with his gears jumping around. Didn't seem to matter. Mike smoked all the 60s. Next across the line was Nelson "Teach" Alaan. Monty asked me later "Where did he come from". That's Nelson's stealth riding style. Hang back and move up late and use his great sprint to get a good finish. If it was fast near the end Nelson would be in trouble.
The next 3 riders to finish were 60s and were close together. Monty Pettus on the inside, Dale Luedtke in the middle and Kal Szkalak on the outside. It went Dale, Monty and Kal. The next pod of riders to cross the finish line were Randy Liechy(55+), David Fetah(55+ David got going again after his near diaster), Ed Marcelo(55+) and myself(60+ and then some). There was a little gap and the rest of the field came across the line. The officials gave us our results mixed but were broken out to 55+ and 60+ for USAC and SCNCA.
The average speed of the race was a little slow for the field at 24.7 mph. It was a fun race and a pretty good turnout considering there was no purse. Thanks to all that did come out and race. The Broncos sucked later from the first snap on but that's sports. Steve Borer was there but not racing because of illness and took some great video and made a production out of it. Here it is: (you have to cut and paste the link). That's all for now folks! Train hard and race safe!
60+ podium- Pettus 3, Birditt 1, & Luedtke 2
55+ podium at Red Trolley- Hoffenberg 3, Hill 1 & Teske 2

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